ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Dance of Lawlessness


It is needless to mention that any arbitrary act, that is in excess of stipulated limits of law or rule of law, has to be counted as an act of lawlessness. Lawlessness, however, has many dimensions: at one end, it occurs when bureaucrats act with personal vengeance or at the behest of the political design of the ruling power; on the other end of the spectrum, when certain groups from the dominant caste and religion perpetrate mob lynching of person(s) from the minority background—this is a categorical act of lawlessness. Further, when certain vigilante groups tend to infringe on someone’s freedom to follow one’s religious faith—this is also lawlessness. For example, preventing the bangle vendors from selling bangles in areas where the clientele happen to be from a particular religion. Or, by parading a group of Dalit men and women, with their hands tied and bodies mercilessly thrashed, in full public presence, non-Dalits from a village in Jiwati taluka of Chandrapur district of Maharashtra resorted to lawlessness. Non-Dalits suspected the former of “indulging” in black magic. It has always been the case that Dalits are singled out and held responsible for doing black magic that, according to the non-Dalits, does not augur well and brings bad times to the latter.

There are at least three conditions that can lead to the deve­lopment of lawlessness among the accusedFirst, a failure to cultivate a sense of self-evaluation. Let us explain this by using janachi nahitar manachi, a Marathi saying that has a profound meaning in the sense that it is related to the idea of self-shame. It is a moral exercise in self-evaluation in which one tends to reveal one’s self to oneself by looking at the trauma and atrocities of others. The inner force expresses a human need to connect with others and, thus, refrains from doing something that one would not have done to oneself at the first instance. But the accused of the village under reference do not have this resource; if they did, they would not have resorted to the barbaric act of forcing a Dalit to participate in their own thrashing parade administered by the non-Dalit who acted like an independent moral authority of judgment and execution.

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Updated On : 11th Sep, 2021
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